NSA 15 Year Member National Speaker Association

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The following is a small sample from The Fine Art of Small Talk


If you generally wait for someone else to take initiative in a conversation, you have been self-centered. It’s true! You have allowed your own comfort to take precedence over every other person’s. You haven’t been dong your fair share of the work. If you’ve largely ignored your conversational responsibilities, it’s time to take ownership. You cannot rely on the other person to carry the conversation for you- a monologue is a chore and seldom very interesting. Furthermore, one-word answers to questions do not count as shouldering your share of the burden.

The first step in becoming a great conversationalist is becoming invested in the conversation and actively working to help the other person feel comfortable. Take a look at the list of icebreaker questions that follow and make a commitment to use at least four of them in your next conversation. If you’re afraid you won’t remember them, write them down, put them in your pocket, and refer to them before you go into the event. If you go blank while you’re there, excuse yourself for a moment and walk into the restroom to take a peek at your list. The most famous and worn-out icebreaker is that age-old question What do you do for a living? It’s so standard that it didn’t make the icebreaker list. Here are some other ways to begin a conversation that will provide a refreshing diversion from shoptalk. You’ll never ask them all, just the ones that seem appropriate for that particular conversation and time. And be prepared to reciprocate, since your conversation partner is likely to return whatever question you pose.


  1. Describe a typical day on the job.
  2. How did you come up with this idea?
  3. What got you started in this industry/area of practice?
  4. What got you interested in marketing/research/teaching?
  5. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
  6. What separates you and your firm from your competition?
  7. Why does your company _________?
  8. Describe some of the challenges of your profession.
  9. What do you see as the coming trends in your business?
  10. What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?

Social/General Icebreakers

  1. What do you think of the movie/restaurant/party?
  2. Tell me about the best vacation you’ve ever taken.
  3. What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
  4. If you could replay any moment in your life, what would it be?
  5. What one thing would you really like to own? Why?
  6. Tell me about one of your favorite relatives?
  7. What was it like in the town where you grew up?
  8. What would you like to come back as in your next life?
  9. Tell me about your kids.
  10. What do you think is the perfect age? Why?


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CBS Sunday Morning
Mastering The Art of Small Talk

Debra Fine special on CBS Channel 4 News. Debra Fine is a professional speaker, best selling author, conversation expert, communication guru, and a nationally recognized spokesperson.

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Covers everything from icebreakers to exit lines. Building business, getting dates, making friends or landing jobs this book is guaranteed to improve conversational skills, mingling ability, and networking techniques.

All the same incredible content, in an all new format. Get The Fine Art of Small Talk for Kindle!

Debra's January 2008 follow up book to her bestseller. The Fine Art of the Big Talk: How to Win Clients, Deliver Great Presentations, and Solve Conflicts at Work.

Feel more at ease at parties, banquets, receptions, and networking events. Use icebreakers that work every time. Engage anyone in conversation with poise and confidence. All In One USB Flash Drive (Mac or PC compatible): ­-3.5 hours
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Beyond Texting: The Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication for Teenagers
Offering practical advice and cheat sheets Beyond Texting strives to help teens balance their digital and real world image and relationships.

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills – And Leave a Positive Impression! (Unabridged) Nationally recognized communication expert, keynote speaker and trainer, and best-selling author Debra Fine reveals the techniques and strategies anyone can use to make small talk - in any situation. Do you spend an abnormal amount of time hiding out in the bathroom or hanging out at the buffet table at social gatherings?

Our group of 500 participants thought you were wonderful. They loved the topic and your wonderfully energetic and amusing delivery. Many people told me we should have given you twice as much time. In the eight years that we have sponsored this conference you have proved to be our most popular luncheon speaker. The response was simply overwhelming"
Melodye A. Turek
Executive Director
Colorado Safety Association